It’s been an eventful year, but I imagine we say that after every year. Life is always full of wondrous and disastrous events. The beer world is no exception. The number of breweries is still growing, albeit less rapidly, and the post Covid and Ukraine war effects of staff shortages and steep raw material prices are taking their toll. Still, beer events and festivals are flourishing. For every brewery that calls it quits there is another one ready to fill that spot on the beer store shelf. Overall good news for us beer fans.
While we reflect on our new year’s resolutions and what is to come, here is a lookback at my Rotterdam year in beer. Fun festivals, new beer places and other beer events. There is also sad news to share, like bars and breweries closing. Such is life.
There were two excellent brewery festivals in Rotterdam this year. Kaapse Brouwers celebrated their 9th anniversary in May with a party they held at Brutus. Due to corona years and moving the brewery, they celebrated 6, 7, 8 and 9 years all at once! With excellent guest breweries DOK, Jopen, La Pirata, Cantina Errante, Laugar, L’Ermitage, Austmann, The Kernel, Sleeping Village, and Brussels Beer Project. The weather, beers, music and company were all fantastic. Can’t wait for the 10 year celebration!
In November Stadshaven Brouwerij – in collaboration with Kaapse Brouwers – held their 2nd edition of Shipped Festival with 6 guest breweries Barrier Brewing, Labietis, Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie, Galway Bay, Full Circle, and Amager. Especially for this festival they brewed a collaboration beer – Hopfenweissen – that you could pour yourself from a mini cask, very cool. That was a nice touch! Check out some impressions below in the photo gallery.
Other fun annual festivals are HOP, with about 10 participating breweries from Rotterdam and beyond (and always one newcomer), music and games, which is held in August. TAPT was held two weeks later at the same location with a big selection of local and international brews.
One of the highlights of the year was the opening of Bierkaai, Vet & Lazy’s new bar on the Maas. It’s located in the same landmark building as their brewery, a former tropical swimming pool turned into a circular economy hub called Blue City. They converted an open parking area under the building into a gorgeous taproom with the best view of Rotterdam with the help of 100+ crowdfunders. Crowdfunding is still going strong for breweries and a great way to generate funding. And it seems that people are not tiring of it. The interest on savings is increasing, but it’s good to see many people want to support their breweries and not only crowdfund for investment purposes. Bierkaai is bigger than the Pub Up in the previous location in the White House (Oude Haven), using as much sustainable or recycled material as possible.
Another beer bar that opened this year in June 2023 is Eurobrouwers, the first brewpub in Schiedam. Technically not Rotterdam, but just one tramstop from Stadshaven Brouwerij, so I think it still counts! It’s a huge space, both inside and outside. I was impressed with the excellent beers on draft. They have a microbrewery installation, but at the time of opening they weren’t brewing there yet. There are plans for a second Eurobrouwers bar in Rotterdam, opening in January 2024.
There was also some sad news. Rotterdam’s one and only cider bar unexpectedly closed in October, filing for bankruptcy. Such a shame! Ciders are going through a revolution, similar to craft beer many years ago, so the idea to open a cider bar was spot on. Perhaps the timing was too soon.
For Dutch Beer Week in May – dubbed Rotterdam Beer Week – 11 local breweries got together to brew a 7% Cold IPA “Sterker door Samenwerking“. This is a relatively new and popular hybrid beer style: an IPA brewed with lager yeast at colder temperatures, but not so cold that it becomes an IPL, or India Pale Lager. My understanding is that is has been around for a while, but the name ‘Cold IPA’ was first coined by Wayfinder Beer in 2018 and the style has now definitely set foot in Europe. When done well, it is a wonderful crisp beer while retaining distinguishing hops aromas and flavors. The Rotterdam version had lovely grassy and citrusy hop aromas and flavors, with a dry finish, the perfect summer beer!
- Kaapse Zweipac by Kaapse Brouwers: Silver, in the category Amber Ale IPA
- Kaapse Maria by Kaapse Brouwers: Bronze, in the category Amber Ale Pale Ale
- Stadshaven Moray IPA by Stadshaven Brouwerij: Bronze, in the category Amber Ale IPA
- Stadshaven Octopus Blond by Stadshaven Brouwerij: Bronze, in the category Blond
- Bionic Blacksmith by Jelster: Silver, in the category Black IPA
Also a big congratulations to Brouwerij Noordt for winning three medals at the World Beer Awards! Silver for their lovely Helles and two Bronze medals for their core range beers Noordtsingle (American Wheat Ale) and Split Session NEIPA.
Another highlight was being asked to nominate a beer for the Nederlands Favoriete Bierlijst 2023, a list of favorite beers put together by beer professionals and enthusiasts. I chose a wonderful hoppy saison by one of my favorite local breweries ROTT.Brouwers.
A personal fun ending to the year was being invited to join Jelster’s First Blood club, a group of Jelster fans who get to try his newest (test) beers.
On a sad note, Brouwerij Groos decided to call it quits. Running a brewery, however small, as a side project in addition to having a job and a family is quite a challenge. Understandably, though unfortunate, the choice was made to stop brewing. A big thank you to Groos for adding color to the Rotterdam beer scene!
What were your favorite (Rotterdam) beer moments in 2023? Share your highlights in the comments below.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and very beery 2024!
All photos taken by and copyright of Tina Rogers, unless otherwise specified.